Mother's Day gifting tradition continues for 20th year despite COVID-19

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The 20th anniversary celebration of the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation turned out differently than expected.

The group of volunteers based in Washington Township, New Jersey, formed a coalition known as "Mothers Matter." For two decades, they have provided thousands of gift bags for local moms to feel appreciated.

This mission relies heavily on volunteer action and donations from the community. Action News was there to cover the hands-on effort in March 2019, where over a dozen women crammed into a tiny headquarters to sort 2,000 bags of gifts.

Just a year later, their operation - and the world - looks a lot different. The era of social distancing, ushered in by COVID-19, severely limited the amount of volunteers that could physically prepare gift bags. The amount of donations were also hampered by the pandemic.

Instead of staying home, Founder and President Susan Rose decided to create an alternative. She looked to the original inspiration of the foundation, which was "to help women in need." So, they focused their efforts this Mother's Day on families temporarily residing in the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey.

There, families from across the world are temporarily living in isolation while their children receive treatment at area hospitals. One family from Peru was elated to receive a Mother's Day gift.

One woman from Ohio recently gave birth to a baby with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, a condition in which organs from the abdomen migrate upwards into the chest. The 21-day-old baby will be operated on tomorrow.

Dorothy Wise, the infant's grandmother, tells us they did not expect to receive gifts during such a turbulent situation.

"I can't fathom going through what my daughter is going through right now," she said. "We can't go anywhere and get anything, so it was really, really special for her to get something for Mother's Day."

Thanks to Mothers Matter, these moms did not spend the day unappreciated.

It's something the foundation's namesake, Lauren Rose Albert, would have wanted. In 1999, she was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Morocco. Her mother, Susan Rose, still fights to this day to keep her memory and activism alive.

To learn more, visit their website.

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